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In the morning I packed up the last few things and took Susie the bags. I went to the lobby and checked myself out and paid the bill. The only thing in it was the massages Susie and I had gotten that “good” day of vacation.
When you check out they give you a check to give to the bell boy and then they will give you your bags. I guess it is their way of preventing deadbeats from sneaking out.
Taxi to the hospital. Zung was still hooked up to the IV. Since I still had to pay the final bill I guess that was their way of preventing deadbeats from sneaking out. He said Dr. Basave had been in to see him and give him discharge instructions. Zung told me Dr. Basave had instructed him to have me have the nurses page him when I arrived. Dr. Basave went over the discharge instructions and Zung’s medications with me. I could tell he was at home because I could hear his kids yelling in the background. He had given Zung his email and his office phone number and his personal cell phone number and said to call him if we or the doctors in the US had any questions. Did I mention that I really, really liked this guy?
I went down to the PR office so I could pay the bill. All told, it was about $28,000. I called American Express to get an increase on my credit so I could keep it on one card. It was at this point that I asked her what someone without the kind of resources we had would do. She replied, “If we though he was going to die, we would do the surgery and then transfer him to another hospital the next day.” I assumed she meant a public hospital. When I first told this story I heard that most people will try to get enough money to go to a private hospital. But it was good to know they wouldn’t just let him die.
She gave me a list of the medications he needed and said I could get them at the hospital pharmacy.
And yet again begins another adventure.
I went to the pharmacy and it was closed. I went back and told her it was closed. She said she would get someone to come and help me. The “someone” looked like one of the nurses that had been up on the floor. He could only find the Aspirin. I got that and then went back to the PR office and told her they didn’t have the other meds. (Clearly, things are run verrrry different from in the US because I am certain they wouldn’t let a nurse into the pharmacy here).
PR lady says, “Oh, you can get them at any pharmacy.” I looked at her like she was from another planet and I wanted to scream, “I have no idea where I am or where ‘any pharmacy’ is.” Since I knew screaming would not help (especially since they already had my money), I said in a calm voice…okay, maybe there was a tinge of panic to it…”Where might a pharmacy be. I don’t know where one is. I’m not from around here.”
I think we went back and forth with this a couple of times and then she seemed to “get” it. She said she would put me in a taxi, tell him where to take me, have him wait for me, and then bring me back to the hospital. Okay! That sounds like a plan!
For the first time ever, there was no taxi waiting out front. She asked the security guard to get me one, so he walked out to the road to flag one down. PR lady got tired of waiting after about two minutes. She told me to come get her inside when a taxi arrived. A couple of minutes later a taxi was there and I went in to get PR lady. She wasn’t in the office and was nowhere to be found. But there was a PR dude there and I explained what she was going to do. He looked at me like I was a very slow child and said, “You can go to any pharmacy.”
I DON’T KNOW WHERE A PHARMACY IS!!!!!!!!!!!!
Fortunately, PR lady came back before I started shrieking like a crazy woman. She gave the taxi driver instructions and I got in and off we drove. And drove. And drove. We passed a pharmacy and he drove. I started feeling slightly anxious but then he pulled up to a strip mall where there was a pharmacy. I asked if he would wait and he assured me that he would.
I thought, “If he leaves, I am screwed.” I was so far out of the tourist zone it wasn’t funny. I didn’t know where I was. Didn’t know who I would call if he left. Didn’t know, if I did happen to figure out someone to call, where I would tell them to come get me.
I went into the pharmacy, where I wasn’t sure if anyone spoke English and we’ve already established my limited Spanish wasn’t going to get me far. I showed the cashier (the first person I came to) the list of meds. She looked at me like I was from another planet. She called another lady over and I showed her the list of meds. She looked at me like she was thinking, “Honey, what the hell are you doing here?” She took me back to the pharmacist and I showed him the list of meds. He really looked at me like I was somewhere I didn’t belong and he wanted to know what I was doing there. He got me all the meds and I asked if they had a pill cutter because I needed that for one of the meds. I wasn’t able to get that understood and so I figured I would just see if they could do it at the hospital. Then I took the drugs to the cashier and the two women there looked at me the same way everyone else had.
It was very bright inside the pharmacy and every sound seemed very loud. I was god knows where, I couldn’t understand anyone and they couldn’t understand me and I swear it almost felt like an out-of-body experience. It was like I was looking down at all this happening to me. I paid and went outside and, phew, the taxi was waiting for me.
As we drove back to the hospital he asked me the usual questions. Who is in the hospital? Is it his stomach? Then he gave me his “card” listing his services. These included, “Streep Club, Massage, Ladies Services and Other Services.”
I kid you not.
Seriously? My husband is in the hospital for a heart attack while we are on vacation in a foreign country and you want to let me know about your “Ladies Services”? YUCK.
I just said, “Uh, no thanks, we’re leaving today, but thank-you.”
Back to the hospital with the meds. I got his nurse to cut the pill that needed it and then I asked her about the schedule for the meds. As she explained it I got concerned about understanding correctly and decided to call my co-worker, Amanda, because she speaks Spanish. She spoke to the nurse and then she told me this was beyond her understanding and she thought I should call the interpreter at the hospital where we work to make sure I got it right. I paged the interpreter and she called me back. I explained the situation and she spoke to the nurse and then I felt like I was clear about when he was supposed to receive the meds.
One person I told this story to asked why I didn’t just wait until I got home to get the meds. I said I thought it was probably pretty important for him to keep taking them on schedule and by the time we got back home the pharmacies would be closed and I was pretty sure if I handed a pharmacist from the US a list (not prescriptions mind you, just a list) of meds from a Mexican doctor, HE would look at me like I was from another planet.
Zung had been disconnected from his IV so we went down to the coffee shop and had some lunch. I briefly considered calling the kids to make sure they were where they should be at that point (checked out and waiting for the van), but I resisted the urge because there wasn’t anything I could do if they weren’t. Probably a good thing because apparently Patrick had gone for one last meeting with his “friend” and didn’t arrive at the lobby until the van was there and loaded. It had even made chronic-ly late Nicholas nervous. He, Susie and Tony confessed that they were freaking out about what to do if he didn’t show up.
Zung and I took one last taxi to the airport. There was an Apple rep there who got Zung a wheelchair. We checked in at the Frontier desk, went through security (you get to line jump when you have someone in a wheelchair) and arrived at the Duty Free shop. Nicholas whispered in my ear, “Just to let you know, we have a bottle of fine scotch whiskey in my bag.” I looked at him, confused. “You like scotch whiskey?” He winked at me.
If you recall from the beginning of this report, he had bought two bottles of Havana rum when we arrived and had only drank one. But you can’t bring Havana rum into the US. Technically, I don’t think he legally was supposed to buy the rum at all. The remaining bottle was poured into said bottle of fine scotch whiskey, supplied by the bartender at the Lindo lobby bar. I had considered buying some in the duty-free store to take home because I had read about other people doing this. In view of how really bad our luck had been on this trip, I decided that was not a good gamble at all. And it’s illegal. And I wouldn’t do something illegal. No, I certainly would not.
We bought some other stuff. We did not buy any of this.
We ate at Margaritaville. We had a fun waiter. Zung bought a shirt and they gave us a silly hat. I had a Havana and coke and it was a big one that I drank every last drop of.
Zung’s wheelchair got us to the front of the boarding line. Dave, our favorite Frontier flight attendant was very concerned about Zung and very attentive during the flight. It was so nice to have that. But the truth is, he’s always nice and attentive.
Uneventful flight. Immigrations. Customs.
This vacation was officially over.
Zung was seen by a cardiologist the next day and he told us Dr. Basave used a state of the art stent (the hospital had given us all his records, albeit in Spanish) and he felt all the meds were appropriate. It was confirmed that he got excellent care.
It has been two years and he’s doing great. His hair is definitely grayer now than it was. Mine probably is too. But only my hairdresser knows for sure.
Thanks for reading. I hope this was helpful and I hope you always take out travel insurance. The travel insurance covered the days that we had paid for that Zung did not use at the Lindo, they also paid the $1000 deductible that our insurance had for a hospital stay and they paid for his taxi ride to the airport. Our insurance reimbursed us for the ambulance, the hospital bill (minus the deductible) and the meds. I sent Dr. Basave an email letting him know how much I appreciated his care of Zung and what a rare doctor I think he is (the three C’s – competent, confident and compassionate). Zung sends him an update every once in a while.
Although I said I wasn’t coming back to Mexico, we all know how that turned out.
I will start on my Big Fat Fabulous 50th birthday trip in the next day or two. That trip report had two titles.
“Andrea’s shoes go to Mexico” and “Who CARES where it’s five o’clock?”